Sunday's Super Bowl XXII on ABC turned out to be a ratings disappointment, even though it earned a number one ranking for the week with a 41.9 national Nielsen rating and a 62 percent audience share (each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

The World Champion Redskins probably didn't help ABC with their 35-point explosion against the hapless Broncos in the second quarter on the way to a 42-10 blowout. The game was the lowest-rated Super Bowl since 1974, when Minnesota and Miami drew a 41.6/73 in Super Bowl VIII ...

ABC researchers, who could find an igloo at high noon in Death Valley in July, pointed out that Sunday's game, with CX million viewers, was still the Vth most-watched Super Bowl in history; the VIIth highest in total number of TV homes delivered (XXXVII million); and the XVIth highest-rated Super Bowl of all XXII (another way of saying it was the VIIth lowest-rated) ...

Willard Scott, the Washington broadcaster who has made it Big on NBC's "Today" show since 1980, is close to signing a new five-year pact with NBC ...

The new pact won't significantly alter his take-home pay, which is reportedly in the high six figures annually, but will guarantee him two days each week working out of Washington (close to his Virginia farm) and at least one day on the road each week for making speeches (he gets at least $5,000 a pop for those) while reporting in via satellite for his daily "Today" weather stint ...

Scott yesterday confirmed a report in this week's issue of the supermarket tabloid Star that he and "Today" anchor Bryant Gumbel had an off-air dust-up two weeks ago but dismissed it as a typical "family squabble" both have already forgotten ...

According to the story in the Star (a copy of which Captain Airwaves insisted was left in his shopping cart accidentally Monday night at the Safeway), Gumbel "told studio workers to stop laughing at Scott's japes because he felt the humor was undignified" and the word got back to Scott ...

Yesterday, Scott said he confronted Gumbel about the "order" and told him "this is my life's blood. If the network doesn't want me to make jokes they better tell me. This is how I make my living ...

"Yes, there was a problem. But there was nothing to it and it was all over very quickly. That happens a lot in a 'family.' And I think if you watch the show, the crew is still laughing" ...

He said Gumbel, with whom he's worked for five years, "is fantastic. We're good friends. In fact, he helped me get this new contract ...

"There's no bad blood between us. In fact, with the February sweeps on hand, I'd even suspect the whole story was a ratings hype" ...

Recovering his sense of humor, Scott said his new book, "America's My Neighborhood," is doing well, adding that "my next book is going to be about Bryant" ...

One NBC Todayer told us that during the prolonged strike of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians at the network last summer, the substitute technicians "kind of tippy-toed around the set every day, but when the NABET regulars returned they resumed their merry ways and Bryant finally decided maybe it was getting out of hand" ...

Gumbel did not return Captain Airwaves' call yesterday. On the other hand, Airwaves, whose tastes we've wondered about for some time, said he had no plans to return his "accidental" copy of the Star, either ...

Now This

"CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" won the network news race last week with a 12.6 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share. "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" was second at 11.4/20 while "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" was third at 11.2/19 ...

Rather's Monday night battle with Vice President Bush produced a 13.1/21 rating that night. Tuesday, curiosity over the reaction apparently helped boost Dan's ratings to a 14.7/24 but the ratings trailed off to 12.6, 12.0 and 10.8 for the rest of the week on CBS ...

Contrary to predictions, the announcement of the Publisher's Clearinghouse giveaway winner Friday on NBC did nothing in particular for the newscast, which registered an 11.4/21 that night, except to keep its ratings stable on an otherwise low-viewership night that also saw ABC drop to a 10.2/19 for the evening ...

The new science editor on ABC's "Good Morning America" is Dr. Michael Guillen, a physics instructor at Harvard. He debuts Feb. 29, replacing former astronaut Eugene Cernan, who is tired of commuting from Texas ...

Speaking of Drs., Dr. Joe Novello has been named medical editor for Channel 7. Starting this week, he's appearing nightly on the 5 o'clock news as "the family doctor." He replaces Marilyn Mitzel, whose contract was not renewed ...

Speaking of Seven (isn't it marvelous how the Daily Miracle flows once Captain Airwaves gets into the Swing of Things some mornings, TV Column fans?) ... on Friday at 11 a.m. WJLA will air the Sally Jessy Raphael half hour that features five nude people -- three women and two men. The program was taped Jan. 11 ...

Sally once interviewed two naked people on her show but they appeared without an audience. Friday, a studio audience of some 200 will be on hand but producers promise very discreet camera work will prevent offending the home folks. Unfortunately, Captain Airwaves gives you all the nudes ...

And if that item didn't reassure you about the State of the Republic, be apprised that Esther Shapiro, the executive producer who introduced Sensitive Steve Carrington, the bisexual, on "Dynasty," is in charge of a new ABC series called "Private Practice" in which a recurring character will be nurse practitioner Marilyn McGrath, a lesbian. Gail Strickland will play Nurse McGrath ...

Shapiro says Nurse McGrath's sexuality will be dealt with "matter-of-factly" on the one-hour dramatic show, which explores the "personal and professional lives of a progressive medical group" ...

The limited-run series, from Aaron Spelling Productions, will debut this spring with a special two-hour episode ...

Don Criqui replaces Jim Cefalo on the "NBC News at Sunrise" sports beat starting Monday. Cefalo reportedly is under consideration to replace Bill Macatee on "Sunday Today" among other possible assignments. Macatee recently defected in favor of the syndicated "USA Today" show ...

1 41.9 Super Bowl XXII 62 ABC 2 28.3 The Cosby Show 44 NBC 3 25.7 Postgame Super Bowl 41 ABC 4 24.5 A Different World 38 NBC 5 24.0 Growing Pains 34 ABC 6 23.7 The Golden Girls 39 NBC 7 22.9 Cheers (Thurs.) 35 NBC 8 22.8 Who's the Boss? 33 ABC 9 22.0 Night Court 34 NBC 10 21.0 Murder of Mary Phagan II 34 NBC 11 18.5 Matlock 27 NBC 12 18.3 Amen 31 NBC 13 17.9 The Wonder Years 31 ABC 17.9 Head of the Class 28 ABC 15 17.8 American Music Awards 34 ABC 16 17.3 ALF 25 NBC 17 17.1 Perfect Strangers 27 ABC 18 16.9 L.A. Law 29 NBC 16.9 Moonlighting 25 ABC 20 16.6 227 27 NBC

With the Super Bowl, ABC had no trouble winning the week, its first primetime win since the conclusion of the World Series in late October and only its second weekly win in the 19 weeks of this season ...

For the week ABC averaged an 18.2 rating and a 29 percent audience share, compared with a 15.1/24 for 17-time winner NBC and a 12.1/19 for CBS. ABC remains two-tenths of a rating point behind CBS and three full ratings points behind NBC in the season-to-date figures ...

Huddled in the cold rain outside the Primetime Pantheon was a surprisingly short line of petitioners, including the gang from NBC's "$6 Million Man and the Bionic Woman," which finished 22nd; as well as representatives from NBC's Wednesday "Cheers" special, tied for 30th ...

Gazing wistfully from the parking lot across LeMasters Lane from the Pantheon were the folks from CBS' "Stones for Ibarra" (41st), NBC's "The Stepford Children" (45th) and NBC's "Beverly Hills Buntz" (56th) ...

The Game severely depressed most Sunday ratings on CBS and NBC, of course, although CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" managed a tie for 25th and the CBS movie, "Love Mary," tied for 30th ...

The best an NBC entry could do was 43rd place for "Family Ties" ...

The Final And Usually Fatal Five Plus Two this week included ABC's "The Thorns" in 62nd, followed, in order, by CBS' "Houston Knights"; CBS' "The Law & Harry McGraw" and ABC's "Sledge Hammer!," tied for 64th; NBC's "Our House"; ABC's "The Charmings"; and NBC's "On the Edge," which slipped right off to 68th and last place for the week ending Jan. 31 ...